Wills was pushing shrimp schemes
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas–– Former Michigan Humane Society president and Humane Society of the U.S. vice president for investigations David K. Wills, 62, is reportedly soon to stand trial in Texas on felony charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child and continuous trafficking of a child.
Reported Bart Bedsole of KRIS-TV, “Wills and a woman from Brownsville,” Maria Candalaria Losoya, 53, “are accused of forcing a female under the age of 14 to perform a long list of sexual acts including prostitution.”
Elaborated the Brownsville police department web site, “The warrant stemmed from an investigation that was initiated on April 8, 2015 from an outcry made to school officials by the victim. The victim alleged being sexually assaulted for several years by a male identified as David Wills while Losoya watched. Investigators were able to obtain enough evidence to obtain warrants for both.”
Authorities have alleged that the acts began when the victim was nine years old, and that she is believed to be related to Losoya. Wills was reportedly first arrested in connection with the case in Rockport on April 13, 2015, “shortly after the he arrived in Aransas County by private jet,” the Coastal Bend Herald reported, and has subsequently been arrested in several other Texas locations.
“Earlier this year, David Wills was able to raise enough money to bond himself out of jail in at least two other counties, including San Patricio County,” recounted Bedsole, “but his bond was set at a million dollars in a Nueces County warrant, meaning he will have to raise $100,000 to be released.”
“Authorities say the case originated in Brownsville,” Bedsole added, “but now involves agencies in several counties, including the Texas Rangers and agents with the Department of Homeland Security.”
Wills was arrested at the Corpus Christi International Airport on November 23, 2015 by the U.S. Marshals Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force.
Alleged flight risk
According to the November 28, 2015 edition of the Coastal Bend Herald, Wills had been held in San Patricio County, but was “released on a $150,000 bond after attorneys were able to arrange a bond reduction from the original two million dollar bond set by the courts. Reports to the Herald indicate,” the newspaper said, “that Wills’ attorneys were able to get permission from a San Patricio District Court Judge in the case to allow Wills to leave the state to visit family for the holidays. Wills was said to have had to surrender his passport as part of the agreement with the courts. An official source told the Herald that Wills was getting ready to leave the state against the wishes of prosecutors who believe Wills to be a flight risk, having access to many resources that may allow him to flee the area or even the country.”
The Nueces County grand jury indicted Wills on November 19, 2015. He was arraigned before Neuces County Court Judge Jose Longoria on November 24, 2015.
“To date Wills is facing charges of continued sexual assault of a child in Cameron, San Patricio, and Nueces Counties, as well charges for human trafficking in San Patricio and Nueces Counties,” summarized the Coastal Bend Herald.
Wills “may face further indictments as time progresses,” the Coastal Bend Herald added. “Official sources tell the Herald that the original criminal investigation began in Aransas County and that the investigation there led to the discovery of the suspected human trafficking that is suspected of sprawling across the region.”
Bail for Losoya was initially set at $250,000. According to the Coastal Bend Herald, Losoya is now “being held inside the San Patricio County Jail on a four million dollar bond.”
Protegé of former HSUS president
A longtime protégé of former Humane Society of the U.S. president John Hoyt, who headed HSUS from 1970 to 1997 and died in 2012, Wills was hired to head the New Hampshire Humane Society in 1972 at Hoyt’s recommendation. Wills reportedly left in 1978 just before the board discovered that funds were missing. Horse and collie fancier/breeder Barbara Schwartz of Holland, New Hampshire, alleged in 1995 that Wills was also facing the threat of a statutory rape charge.
Despite the New Hampshire fiasco, Hoyt then recommended Wills to the Michigan Humane Society, where Wills was executive director, 1979-1989. Wills resigned from Michigan Humane when the board began inquiring into the disappearance of $1.6 million. Book-keeper Denise Hopkins was eventually convicted of embezzling $56,000 of the missing sum. (See also Jean Marx, 85, set out to reform the Michigan Humane Society and ended up reshaping the Humane Society of the U.S.)
More missing money
Wills next founded a short-lived entity called the National Society for Animal Protection, but dissolved it in 1991 upon becoming HSUS vice president for investigations. Longtime Michigan Humane Society volunteer and employee Sandra LeBost of Royal Oak, Michigan, in June 1995 won a $42,500 judgment against Wills for non-repayment of loans he solicited in connection with starting NSAP. She was never able to collect the money.
In August 1995, three HSUS employees sued Wills for alleged sexual harassment and embezzling. Suspended by HSUS soon afterward, Wills was fired in November 1995.
Wills countersued the HSUS employees who sued him. Those cases were settled out of court in mid-1998.
Pleaded guilty to embezzling
In June 1999 Wills pleaded guilty to one count of embezzling $18,900 from HSUS between 1990 and mid-1995; agreed to pay restitution of $67,800 to HSUS; and accepted a six-month jail sentence. HSUS and the State of Maryland agreed to drop six other counts of embezzlement, alleging thefts of $84,128.
Meanwhile, Wills in June 1995 married Lori J. White, a former member of the legislative staff of the late U.S. Representative Charlie Wilson (D-Texas), who was also ex-wife of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals cofounder Alex Pacheco. The wedding was jointly performed in Mexico City by HSUS president John Hoyt and then-HSUS vice president Paul Irwin, both former clergymen. Irwin was later president of HSUS, 1997-2004.
Irwin later headed the American Bible Society, but his contract was not renewed after New York Times technology writer Brad Stone extensively exposed his dealings with web developer Richard Gordon, whom Irwin also employed at HSUS, in a May 18, 2008 exposé entitled “An E-Commerce Empire, From Porn to Puppies.”
(See also David Wills: archived exposés, 1995-1999.)
Dealings involving both Wills and White contributed to the November 2006 election defeat of Republican Richard Pombo of California.” Pombo, who had chaired the House Resources Committee, reportedly became the first committee chairman in 20 years to lose a re-election bid, toppled by wind energy consultant Jerry McNerney, who had never before held public office.
The beginning of the end for Pombo came in October 2005, when Bob Williams of the Center for Public Integrity and Steve Henn of the American Public Media radio program Marketplace disclosed that Pombo “may have broken the law by not paying taxes on at least two foreign trips costing more than $23,000, paid for by the nonprofit International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources.”
The misleadingly named IFCNR was a front for animal use industries that “received donations from nearly three dozen funders from 2000 to 2004,” Williams and Henn said. “Most of the money came from the food, agriculture, or fur industries.”
Trappers, sealers, whalers
The top listed IFCNR donor was Darden Restaurants, owners of Red Lobster and Olive Garden restaurant chains, contributing $574,000. Red Lobster sales of Canadian snow crabs were at the time under boycott by HSUS and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as a pressure tactic in opposition to the Atlantic Canadian seal hunt.
The next three largest IFCNR donors were the National Trappers Association, $143,890; the International Fur Trade Association, $120,000; and Monsanto Corporation, the leading maker of bovine somatotropin, a synthetic hormone used to artificially boost the amount of milk given by cows, $115,000.
“Other big donors to the IFCNR include the Japan Whaling Association, the Maryland Trappers Association, Caspian Star Caviar, the [food service provider] Sysco Corporation, Smithfield Foods, Strauss Veal Company, and the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory,” Williams and Henn added.
The top individual donor, contributing $47,022, was Lori J. White.
Wills, meanwhile, was listed as the chief contact for the IFCNR on their 2004 filing of IRS Form 990, and was listed as an IFCHR director in 2000.
“There are several transactions in IFCNR’s filings that might raise flags as possible self-dealing,” Williams and Henn suggested, citing “A $55,000 grant in 2000 to the now-defunct People, Ethics, Animals, Truth Institute.”
The PEAT Institute was run by Wills,” Williams and Henn explained, as was a successor entity to PEAT Institute called Sustainable Resources International.
Failed shrimp venture
Wills’ business relationship with Darden Restaurants continued through a South African venture called SeaArk, which was to supply Red Lobster with farmed white shrimp. According to South African and shrimp industry media accounts, SeaArk spent more than $42 million to develop a shrimp farm that failed without getting beyond “pilot” development.
White died of breast cancer on August 30, 2014.
Wills after the SeaArk failure remained involved in shrimp farming through a project called Global Blue Technologies, based in Rockport, Texas, begun in 2011. Wills acknowledged on the GBT web site earlier in 2015 that the venture had performed below investor expectations.